Authors: Vicki Hinze
Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Romance, #General
Welcome to the second book of The Seascape Trilogy, three mystical romance-mystery novels Vicki Hinze wrote under her pen name, Victoria Barrett.
said: “‘Sometimes you have to leap upon a mystic tide and have faith the sand will shift and an island will appear’ is the message sent telepathically to Bess Cameron, a radio psychologist whose divorce is about to become final. She’s still in love with John Mystic, her soon-to-be ex, but his interests lie elsewhere, or so she believes. A meeting at the Seascape Inn to finalize the property settlement agreement brings Bess and John under the charming matchmaking wings of ghost-in-residence Tony and the inn’s owner, Miss Hattie . . . beautifully written . . .”
“After reading the Seascape Romance Series, you’ll be ready for a vacation at the Seascape Inn—to find new love or rediscover an old one . . . A touching tale of two people finding their way back to each other.”
Beside a Dreamswept Sea
All three Seascape novels are being re-issued by Bell Bridge Books in multi-format ebook editions and new trade paperback editions, beginning in September 2011. For more information visit Bell Bridge Books at http://bellbridgebooks.com.
Other Vicki Hinze Titles Coming Soon From Bell Bridge Books
Shades of Gray, Acts of Honor, and All Due Respect
Metaphysical Romantic Suspense—
Maybe This Time
Book two in the
Bell Bridge Books
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead,) events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Bell Bridge Books
PO BOX 300921
Memphis, TN 38130
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61194-079-4
Print ISBN: 978-1-61194-084-8
Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.
Copyright © 1996 by Vicki Hinze
Printed and bound in the United States of America.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
A mass market edition of this book was published by St. Martins in 1996 by Vicki Hinze writing as Victoria Barrett
We at BelleBooks enjoy hearing from readers.
Visit our websites – www.BelleBooks.com and www.BellBridgeBooks.com.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Cover design: Debra Dixon
Interior design: Hank Smith
Sarymsakov | Dreamstime.com
© Jo Ann
Snover | Dreamstime.com
To Helen Breitwieser who encourages, demands, and believes without reservation and to Edna Sampson, my beloved mother, and
Jeanette Spradley, Charlene Ladner, and Frankie Threlkel. A volume of books could never hold all the reasons and, as always, to Hubby and my children, Ray, Mike, and Kristen Thank you for loving me
. . .
Jackie, Tom, Stobie, Phyllis; and Anita, who have frequently and tirelessly assisted by allowing me to see their beloved Maine through their eyes and experience its magic through their efforts.
Linda Quinn, who shared her talents by painting a watercolor of the Seascape Inn so beautiful it is a constant inspiration to me. And Marge and Bob Smith, for commissioning that painting.
Judy Wren, stained-glass artist, whose artistic interpretation in the
Suncatcher’s design of a yellow carnation, captured, solidified, and enhanced beautifully my vision of healing and joy as the essence for all my
Lorna Tedder, Laverne Brigman, Joyce Holland, Cindy Holbrook, Darlene Dean, and Mickie Phipps, for philosophical guidance and sharing their expertise.
Body language rarely lies.
That Bess Cameron’s boss, Sal Ragusa, stood about as stiff as a totem pole set her ragged nerves on an even sharper edge. While divorce never bares its pointed teeth without pain and suffering to everyone involved, in her case, it appeared those teeth would be mortally wounding far more than her marriage.
Resigned to yet another lecture, she held up a give-me-a-second finger, punched the tape labeled “Commercials” into the deck, pressed the play button, then rocked back in her squeaky chair. “All right, Sal. Go on.”
“I’m really worried about you.” He slumped against the recording booth’s doorjamb, deliberately trying to look less concerned. Harsh light from the hall spilled across the WLUV 107.3 emblem on his T-shirt and swiped a slash across his clenched jaw. “This is the only way I know to protect you, and you refuse. When Millicent hears about your divorce
. . .
Bess would feel the bite of the teeth. She sighed. Why did formally ending a marriage that had died and been mourned long ago conjure intense hurt that felt so
. . .
Seeing little productive coming from exploring that question and certain she’d miss nothing that hadn’t been covered on countless other occasions, she let her attention drift from Sal’s lengthy monologue.
The eerie green, red, and white light emitting from the booth’s controls typically seemed familiar and comforting. Tonight, it made her uneasy, though she was enough of a pro to admit that the root of her discomfort really wasn’t the light. It was her, inside—and for a good, logical reason.
It was late, nearly midnight, and she’d had so much on her mind lately that she hadn’t been sleeping well. Big understatement there. And even though she considered self-analysis the fodder of fools for professional psychologists, Bess risked speculating on her unprofessional opinion of her current status. Diagnosis? She was physically tired, emotionally wrung out, spiritually drained, and about as sick as spit—a term she’d picked up from her friend, Maggie MacGregor—of worrying. Prognosis? Grim. From all indications, things were doomed to get worse before they got better. And exactly how much worse remained totally out of Bess’s control.
The first commercial started playing. She tapped the mute button so it’d be transmitted but not heard in the booth, then checked her watch. They had three minutes to wrap up this conversation before she had to get back on the air.
Swiveling in her chair to face her boss, who unfortunately showed no signs of being winded or of winding down and ending his lecture, she again thought he’d be ahead of the game if he’d give in gracefully to his age instead of trying to keep up with the twenty-year-olds running around the station. To her own thirty-three, Bess figured Sal at fifty—maybe fifty-five—and fighting each year showing as if it were a thieving demon. He jogged to fight a tiny paunch, lifted weights three times a week at his posh French Quarter club to avoid unavoidable muscle sag, and tinted his hair a god-awful brown to hide persistent gray. His obsession with his appearance, like his tendency to talk first and think later, was at times saddening, at times maddening, but always tolerable because the man was fair, he had a good heart, and he was loyal.
With him, Bess never ranked second.
And now she had to oppose him. She suffered a flash of regret but, needing to wrap up this session of their “Great Debate,” she interrupted. “I know you’re trying to help, but I can’t accept
kind of help. It’s
. . .
“And I knew you were going to say that. You always do.” He propped a sneakered foot against the lime green wall. “But these are the only possibilities I see of saving your job. I’ve put out some feelers on this and, as soon as she catches wind of your divorce, Millicent
fire you, Bess.”
losing her job? Surely she couldn’t be expected to endure both simultaneously—at least not with grace. And staring financial ruin in the face didn’t do much to assist on the personal philosophy aspiration front. Bess chewed on her inner, lower lip. Why had she made aspiring to grace part of her annual, personal motto this year anyway? Foolish. Especially with her knowing the divorce was coming—John certainly wouldn’t lift a finger to stop it—and with patience still lingering on the list from last year. She’d finally given in and accepted that patience—or, more accurately, her lack of it—was destined to be a perpetual aspiration: a part of every year’s motto. But she was still working on accepting the divorce and John’s reaction to it. Now she had unwisely put herself in the position of having to strive to meet both and the threat of being fired and financially ruined too. All with grace. And all simultaneously.
The fear of failure had the recording booth seeming small and stuffy and stifling hot. It smelled musty too, and the temptation to spout off at Sal to release some tension spread like a wildfire up her throat. She swallowed it back down, where it churned in her stomach.
Well, no one had promised life would be fair. Good thing, because these days her supporters cantered in few and far between. Sal was one of her most staunch. Alienating him would be just plain foolish, and Bess Cameron was not a foolish woman, at least not in most things—aside from in choosing her spouse and in saddling herself with overly ambitious annual mottoes she regretted January second and doggedly pursued until December thirty-first.
Having heard enough of this particular lecture, she squeezed the padded arms of her chair. Air swooshed out, hissing between her fingers. “I’ve been counseling callers at this radio station for more than six years, Sal. I’m a psychologist. I’m not superhuman or ‘Wonder Woman,’ and I certainly never claimed to be perfect. And I’m not committing felonious acts in my private life, I’m just getting a divorce.”
getting a divorce?” Sal lifted an arm. “A divorce is more than pertinent to your professional life, Bess.”
Her temper again flared. And again, she tamped it, chilled her voice to cool. “Can you, or our esteemed owner, Millicent Fairgate, make a marriage work alone?”
Sal lowered his gaze to the tile floor. “No. No one can. But—”
“I see.” Bess crossed her chest with her arms. “Why then am I expected to be able to do it?”
earn your living counseling people on marriage and relationships.
don’t.” He muttered a grunt. “You know Millicent is going to take the position that if you can’t make your own marriage work, then—”
“I know how I earn my living.” Bitterness burned in her stomach. Given half a chance, she
have made her marriage work. But John hadn’t cooperated. She’d loved him enough to go the distance, to fight to keep their marriage strong. But he hadn’t loved her enough to work at it with her. And he’d caused her more grief . . .
Bess put the skids on those thoughts. Counterproductive. A waste of time and of good energy. “I’m sorry, Sal, but neither of your options work for me. I can’t live in this unmarried married state of suspended animation anymore. Going ahead with the divorce is a positive step. It’s an outward reflection of inner acceptance. A commitment to growth and, regardless of how uncomfortable or painful it is, personal growth is always positive.” Let him take that rationale along as ammunition to fight Millicent Fairgate. Even she couldn’t deny Bess deserved a life as much as anyone else. “And I can’t lie—not even to save my job.”
She forced a strength into her voice she just didn’t feel. “If the truth isn’t good enough for Millicent, then fine. Let her fire me. But I will
lie to these callers by pretending to be happily married when I’m divorced.”
“You omit lots of personal details. Hell, you’ve avoided talking about your personal life for six years. Why does it have to be an issue now?”
He couldn’t be serious. She studied his expression and held off a sigh. He was. “I haven’t avoided talking about my personal life. Callers haven’t been interested. They’ve wanted to discuss their troubles, not mine. But, as you so aptly put it, I’ll soon be a divorcée counseling others on love and relationships. The press will be all over me, making my status an issue. And when they are and they do, I will not lie about it.”
Sal slid her a look ripe with warning. “Think this through. If you’re fired, you can’t help anyone. You’ll have no forum. If you omit publicly disclosing and discussing the divorce, you’ve got a shot at staying in a
position to help others. What’s the difference—”
As if the press wouldn’t disclose it for her. As if she had a choice. Rationalizing, indulging in selective recall, talking without first thinking—as usual.
Get a grip, Sal.
Bess interrupted. “Even if the press gave me a choice—which they won’t—the difference, damn it, is that these callers trust me.”
Sal’s jaw fell slack.
Bess pushed her palms against the chair arms, then squeezed her eyes shut. Had she
just sworn at her boss? Good grief, she had!
She was losing it. After years of diligent effort at restraining herself and venting only when alone, she was losing it. So much for patience. And she could kiss off grace on this discussion too. What had gotten into her? She just didn’t do this sort of thing.
Worrying about the divorce; the disputed property settlement still hanging over her head and keeping her off-balance; her lawyer, Francine, throwing fits with monotonous regularity because Bess refused to take anything from John—as if she could and not die of humiliation—and now threats of being fired by WLUV 107.3’s prude of a shortsighted and narrow-minded matriarch owner, Millicent Fairgate. What else could go wrong?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. All bases stood covered.
Hardly a comforting thought but, on the upside, Bess was still sane. And when things
get worse then, damn it, they
to get better.
The solace in that universal truth enabled her to level her voice. “I’m sorry, Sal.”
“It’s, um, no problem.” He wasn’t trying to hide his concern anymore and, if his grim expression proved a reliable indicator, that concern had doubled.
“Listen, I understand your logic, and your intent is good. But, to me,
omission would be lying, and I won’t do it.” She raked a thumbnail over her coffee mug handle. The grating friction felt good. “I can’t.”
His silence demanded an explanation. Though she’d rather not discuss her feelings further, she supposed he deserved to hear her reasons. He
oppose Millicent firing Bess, and Millicent wouldn’t take his opposition kindly. If history proved telling, she’d retaliate. For his loyalty and heartburn in defending Bess, Sal would pay dearly, and be made darn miserable. Yes, she owed him an explanation.
Trembling, she set down her mug then grabbed a pen from the desk to have something less risky to do with her hands. “The people who call here believe in me. They feel comfortable talking with me because they know I’ll be honest with them. If I lie to them, then what have I got left?”
He groaned. “Bess, you’re taking this much too person—”
“I’d have nothing, Sal.” That pitiful truth had the back of her nose tingling, her eyes stinging. Her heart aching. “Nothing.”
Statue-still, his hands fisted in his jeans pockets, he stared at her a long minute, then blew out a sigh that reeked of frustration. “Okay.” The lines etching his face shadowed in the dim control lights, tinting his skin with a ghoulish green glow. “Okay. There’s a ninety-nine percent chance you’ll end up canned and out on your keister, but I admire your principles. I always have.” He sighed again, deeper. It lifted his chest and shoulders. “I’ll do what I can to tame the shrew and to keep her hand off the ax.”
“I appreciate it.” Bess tried but couldn’t muster a smile. Afraid her relief would show in her eyes, and she’d insult Sal by doubting his loyalty, she glanced down at her watch and checked the time. Less than a minute before she had to be back on the air.